For our ceremony we consulted with Cindy Matchett, a celebrant who we found through the Celebrant USA Network. Cindy helped give us a number of ideas for how to get the ceremony to reflect what we wanted, and then created an initial draft of the ceremony for us which we then edited together. We’re really happy with the way the whole process went, and feel that in the end the ceremony said the things that we think are important to us.
Below is the “final” version of our ceremony. We ended up modifying it again on the wedding day because unseasonably warm weather forced us to have it outside. The big change was that the sand painting was done afterwards throughout the evening, which we think worked out even better than it would have in the ceremony.
Greg and Mekayla’s
April 24-25-26, 2009
AMC Highland Center at Crawford Notch, NH
Flag carriers (Anand, Roy/Laurie, Chip/Mary, Jane/Eric, Pascal, Ben L) take poles with prayer flags down from the wall in the dining room, and set up facing each other, creating a “moving corridor” for Greg and Mekayla and their family and friends to stand in-between.
Some friends and family will be at the front (Riley and Maynard kids will lead into Washburn, open doors etc)), then Greg and Mekayla in the middle, and then more friends and family follow behind. Kim, Michael, Geoff and Katy will sing a nigun on the walk over. Robert will be over in Washburn to play guitar as we enter.
7PM Begin processional (Nigun Singers will sing as we walk)
When procession arrives at the ceremony space, the flag carriers separate to form two semi-circles at the front of the space. Greg and Mekayla stand in the front center, as part of the larger circle, with parents on either side. Guests gather facing them, curved also in a semi-circle, finishing the sense of circle. Robert is playing. The gathering will be around the sand cloth and the bowls of sand will already be in place.
(Riley and Maynard kids will guide people around to their places.)
Greg and Mekayla will move from this side of the circle to the other side by the end of the ceremony.
When everyone is set, Mekayla and Greg begin.
INTRODUCTION – Greg and Mekayla
As we transition into this new part of our celebration, Mekayla and I want to tell you a bit about this space we chose to be in. First, we are pleased that this Carriage House is refurbished, that the center reused something old to make something new instead of getting rid of it and starting from scratch. In addition, these photos are of mountains around the world, which surprise surprise, we love and feel are the perfect surrounding for our ceremony tonight. (You can adapt this to the spot you choose outside if you are able to be outside).
Changes and transitions, both between individuals, and in relation to their larger community, happen in life whether we acknowledge them or not. Mekayla and I have celebrated and cherished our love for one another in many different ways over the past 5 years, but it was important to us to celebrate and mark our commitment to one another with all of you.
An ancient proverb tells us that people who lack the knowledge of their past are like a tree without roots. Tonight, we honor our family and friends, present and past, we celebrate the coming together of our two families, and we remember those who are no longer with us, to whom we owe so much. As is customary in the Jewish tradition, please speak aloud the names of those you wish to remember, or simply hold them in your hearts.
(Mekayla and her family are prepared to begin speaking the first names, pausing between, and then allowing others to add on. Names include Richard and Carol Lederer, Bud and Phyllis Beaver, Matthew Beaver, Michael Welch, Anne Breckinridge…)
And now, if you wish, join us with the words, “We remember them” during our Kaddish prayer.
We Remember Them
adapted from Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share
We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as
We remember them.
READING 1 – Parent
Greg and Mekayla have a favorite cartoon from Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin says, “You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don’t
help.” (smile). I am sure there are days when Greg and Mekayla feel like this, but I think not many. Our presence here, for, and with, Mekayla and Greg, is a sign of our support, our love, and our commitment to you as a couple. You have grown together…
(Would person like to write this themselves? They should include something about how you are celebrating the connection of your families as well.)
Tom: Advice from a Tree
By Ilan Shamir
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance:
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!
READING 2 – Good Friend
I would now like to share another favorite reading, from the Velveteen Rabbit.
From "The Velveteen Rabbit"
by Marjory Williams
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were
lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came
to tidy the room. "Does it mean having
things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn’t how you are made," said the Horse.
"It’s a thing that happens to you.
When a child loves you for a long,
long time, not just to play with, but Really
loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Horse, for he was always
truthful. "When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked,
"or bit by bit?"
"It doesn’t happen all at once," said the Horse. "You
become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen
often to people who break easily, or have sharp
edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the
time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and
your eyes drop out and you get all loose in
the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at
all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to
people who don’t understand."
SAND CEREMONY – All
In our recent travels, we have had spectacular experiences. It was a big deal to take such a huge trip together, with so many unknowns, and it changed us and our relationship in many ways. We learned a lot on this adventure and we loved it, though we faced some challenges, like sharing one computer for a year! (smile) But this trip is just one part of a larger whole. Rites of passage, or major transitions of identity in people’s lives, have often been described by the metaphor of a journey. For us, this whole process of the past five years, growing together and building our partnership, has indeed been a journey. I love thinking of life as a big adventure, with Greg here to share it with.
(*Mekayla starts to remove ring and places on cloth.)
In Maori culture, exchanging pounamu, or greenstone, is considered an act of becoming married. As soon as we heard about this tradition, we both started thinking that buying pendants for each other would be a great way to start the process of getting married for ourselves, as well as a way to commemorate our trip. We talked a fair bit about getting them, but ended up buying these beautiful pendants off the cuff from a very down-to-earth artist one weekend. He and his wife gave us a very heartfelt blessing as we exchanged them. It was not what we had planned, but similar to how we approach life, we just went along with the flow, and it made the whole experience feel that much more special.
Our wedding rings were created by Mekayla’s cousin out of jewelry recycledfrom each of our families. They have the same design from our pounamu, representing the intertwining of our relationship. We like the balance of traditional and unique, of exchanging both pendants and rings, as we continue to explore and share together.
(*Greg starts to remove ring and places on cloth.)
As individuals and as a couple, we have been touched and shaped by all of the hands here today (and many others as well.) And so, as part of our ceremony tonight, we would like to invite you to join us in creating a collective Sand Painting which is inspired by Navajo, Australian Aboriginal and Tibetian traditions. It is important to us to create something together with our family and friends to mark this special time.
We (Greg and Mekayla) will begin the sand painting here, and then invite our parents and families to add to it. After a few minutes, we invite all of you to add your own mark to the painting, signifying your own wish or wisdom for us. No artistic skills are necessary! Sprinkle a new color of sand somewhere, or draw a line with your finger, whatever feels best. We thank you in advance for the shared experience of this gift, one that exists only in this unique moment.
(Robert’s music CD is played by Dave..
The cloth and sand bowls will already be arranged on a small table or the floor.
Add some sand as a base to begin,
…And then make lines with fingers, add more sand on top, whatever comes to you.
Sarah will guide people to take turns adding to the painting. As it nears the end of the time that feels right, she can quietly ask if everyone has had a turn.
The finished painting will be left until the end of the ceremony, and then can hopefully be moved off to the side where it is free to be added to throughout the evening.
Everyone returns to their places in the circle.)
PROMISES – Greg and Mekayla
(Mekayla and Greg stay in the center of the circle, near the table – this is the first “step” on their journey to “cross the circle.”)
Greg takes one of the rings from the center of the sand and prepares to speak his/her promises
Mekayla, this ring, like our greenstone, symbolizes that I gladly marry you and join my life with yours.
I love you.
(Ring is slid on finger
Mekayla takes the other
This ring, like our greenstone, symbolizes that I gladly marry you and join my life with yours.
I love you.
(Ring is slid on finger)
(Greg and Mekayla stay in the center for the blessings, or step to the other side of the circle at this point, across from where they began the ceremony.)
“SEVEN BLESSINGS” – All
In a traditional Jewish wedding, the couple is read The Seven Blessings. Tonight, we want to offer Greg and Mekayla many more than seven! (smile)
Into this space, you are now invited to offer hopes for Mekayla and Greg and their future together, in the form of single words. Take a moment to think of a single word that best represents your wish for them, and speak it out loud when you are ready. If we overlap with one another, that is just fine, and if you think of another word to share, call it right out. We’ll share in this manner for a few minutes now.
(Friends & family call out single words such as “Joy”
“Adventure” “Fun.” )
(Ends when we move to other side of circle or Carrie can give us a nudge).
*(Mekayla and Greg now step to the other side of the circle, across from where you began the ceremony, for the declaration.)
COMMUNAL DECLARATION – All
– reading to Greg and Mekayla
This is from an ancient Sanskrit poem…
Look to this day
for it is life
the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the realities and truths of existence,
the joy of growth
the splendor of action
the glory of achievement.
For yesterday is but a memory
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived
makes every yesterday a memory of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day….
Mekayla and Greg have declared before all of us that they will live together as partners in marriage. They have made special promises to each other, symbolizing their union. On their behalf, I now ask all who are gathered here, do you promise to support Greg and Mekayla in their shared life? If so, please answer, "We do." All: We do!
Then, repeat after me: Greg and Mekayla, by the power of your love and commitment (Greg and Mekayla, by the power of your love and commitment) we all now pronounce you, (we all now pronounce you), husband and wife! (husband and wife!)
So say we all. (So say we all)
Greg and Mekayla kiss
Someone pre-appointed quickly moves the sand ceremony table away, as someone else cues the music…